Play NYC has gotten bigger and better every year. It’s got more exhibitors, more attendees, and more space than ever before, and this year’s convention had more than one stand-out hit. We were thrilled to see that Devolver Digital would be there, then a bit disappointed to realize that their booth was tiny and they were only showing a single game: Heave Ho.
Our disappointment didn’t last long.
Thank goodness for media hour, or we'd have never gotten close to playing!
A Different Kind Of Platforming
Heave Ho, developed by Le Cartel Studio and published by Devolver, allows up to four players to take control of strange, circular creatures and work together to get through various one-screen stages. You’ll have to get over gaps, avoid spikes, climb walls, and get your entire team to the end of each stage in one piece.
The catch? None of you have legs. You get around by grabbing onto platforms - or your teammates - and swinging, climbing, or throwing each other to where you’re going. Your character’s left and right hand are each mapped to a button; holding that button makes you grab on with that hand, releasing it makes you lets go. Thankfully, your hands are helpfully labelled at all points during gameplay so you don’t die from a simple mixup. Grabbing and swinging is 99% of what you do in Heave Ho, so it’s a very simple, very silly game.
"See those spikes? I'm gonna kill myself on them... at LEAST three times."
In fact, there’s only one other button. You can press it to cheer for your teammates, which is very wholesome and encouraging; or, if you hold it down, you can do something that’s actually helpful. You’ll build up a small pulse that you can use to bump other players and send them flying. I’m sure this is ripe for abuse in speedrunning, though none of the Sprites and Dice crew were good enough to make it work. Mostly we just killed each other with it.
Simple, But Not Easy
Speaking of killing each other, while playing Heave Ho you should be prepared to die. A lot. Whether it’s because you misjudged a throw, mistimed a grab, or you and your friend accidentally grabbed each others’ arms instead of the platform, there are going to be a lot of Super Meat Boy style explosions as you and your friends fall into the void or impale yourselves on spikes. The good news is that death only sets you back a few seconds - the bad news is that Heave Ho keeps track of every single one.
"I''ll never let go!" -Overheard moments before Orange fell to his death.
As a side note, the paint explosion when you die actually has physics behind it that can push the other players around. I want to believe that that’s also somehow able to be abused while playing.
Make Or Break Your Friendships
Heave Ho is either going to be the most fun you and your friends have had in a long time, or it’s going to be the end of your social group.
After cruising through the first set of levels and getting just good enough to get cocky, you’ll run headlong into new obstacles, wider gaps, hard-to-reach collectibles, and for some reason a farting llama. You’ll misjudge throws, mistime grabs, and swing each other right into spikes. You’ll laugh hysterically, you’ll yell at each other, and then you’ll need a minute to collect yourselves before trying again.
Heave Ho is coming to PC and Switch on August 29th, so keep an eye out. I think that if you have a few friends over for a party and turn this game on, you’re going to have a blast.